January 2016

Dear Baltic Sea friend,

We have started the new year with a lot of fresh energy to kick off a number of new projects and events, but also to continue with our ongoing projects and activities during the second half of the Polish Presidency.

Last few months have been very busy at the CBSS. A regional approach to climate change adaptation was discussed during the Joint Meeting on Sustainable Development in Warsaw, while measures to enhance cooperation with the CBSS Observer States were tackled during the CBSS Annual Consultations. We wrapped up the EuroFaculty Pskov project and kicked off Balticlab 4.0 with a Networking Weekend. Finally, we marked the midpoint of the Polish Presidency with a special concert of Chopin’s songs organised by the Polish Embassy in Sweden.

Have a look at our newsletter below to see what has been going on during the months and have a great start to 2016!


First joint meeting on sustainable development and climate change adaptation

For the first time in the Baltic Sea region, all the leading regional institutions met in one place and discussed ways of elaborating regional answer to common global challenges linked to sustainable development.

A joint meeting of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials (CSO), the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development – Baltic 21, the Baltic Sea Region Climate Dialogue Platform under Horizontal Action Climate, the European Union (EUSBSR) Strategy for the Baltic Sea region National Coordinators, EUSBSR Policy Area/Horizontal Action Coordinators, HELCOM and the European Commission represented by DG Climate, was held at the Polish Ministry of Environment on 28th October 2015, with the Sister Councils of the North also present. The Nordic Council of Ministers (chaired by Denmark) and Barents Euro-Arctic Council (chaired by Russia) were represented by their Presidency representatives and the Chair of the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group (USA) joined the meeting via video conference. The meeting was presided over by Ambassador Michał Czyż, Polish Chair of the CSO.  

The participants discussed ways of effective regional implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The CBSS decided to develop the new post-2015 agenda for sustainable development for the Baltic Sea region and made it one of its strategic actions under the priority “Sustainable and Prosperous Region”. This is also one of the priorities of the Polish CBSS Presidency. The impact of climate change in the Arctic on the Baltic Sea region was also highlighted during the meeting.

As input for discussion, CBSS Secretariat and the Polish CBSS Presidency prepared a non-paper entitled Cooperation on sustainable development in the Baltic Sea region – climate change adaptation case study. Download the document here. The non-paper was complemented by a graphic illustrative diagram of climate adaptation governance viewed from a CBSS perspective.

The joint meeting was held back-to-back with the 2nd Committee of Senior Officials under the Polish Presidency, the 13th meeting of the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development – Baltic 21, the 5th Round Table of the Baltic Sea Region Climate Change Dialogue Platform and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region stakeholders meeting.


Annual consultations with the CBSS Observer States

December was also the time of the CBSS annual consultations of the Committee of Senior Officials with the Observer States, represented by respective embassies accredited in Stockholm.

The Chair of the meeting, Ambassador Michał Czyż, briefed the Observer States on the Polish CBSS Presidency priorities and activities. He introduced ideas that could be used in order to strengthen cooperation with the Observers. At the same time, the Observers named topics that are of particular interest to them, including migration, counteracting human trafficking, civil protection, children’s rights, sustainable development, culture, and creativity. They also expressed their interest in strengthening links between the CBSS and other regional organisations, structures and macro-regional strategies, in which they are active.

The following countries are CBSS Observers: Belarus, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. In November 2015, Hungary applied for an official observer status and joined the annual consultations.

The annual consultations were followed by the 3rd CBSS Committee of Senior Officials meeting, where the two final projects of the Project Support Facility (PSF) initial agreed funding were approved. Moreover, members of the CSO confirmed the decision of the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development, made on 28 October in Warsaw, regarding the group’s mandate post-2015. 


Midpoint of the Polish Presidency at the Polish Embassy in Stockholm

The Embassy of the Republic of Poland marked the midpoint of the Polish Presidency of the CBSS by hosting a special jubilee concert on 9 December 2015 at the Residence of H.E. Ambassador Wiesław Tarka in Stockholm.  

Polish opera singers from Stołeczna Estrada, one of the largest cultural institutions of Warsaw, performed Frédéric Chopin’s songs to Polish lyrics, including those of the famous romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz.



Building bridges at the14th All-Russian Strategic Forum in St Petersburg

The 14th All-Russian Forum "Strategic Planning in the Regions and Cities of Russia: The Space for Choice and Choice of Space" was held in St Petersburg on 19-20 October. The CBSS Secretariat was represented by Director General Jan Lundin, who was part of the opening plenary session, discussing strategic planning and moderated a session on finding synergies between the two regional strategies: North West Russia Strategy 2020 and the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea region (EUSBSR). Janusz Gaciarz, Senior Adviser for Safe & Secure Region, as well as Krista Kampus, Senior Adviser on Sustainable & Prosperous Region and Head of Baltic 21 Unit, presented their work in the EUSBSR framework and the ongoing opportunities for Russian cross-border cooperation, within the EUSBSR framework and beyond.


EuroFaculty Pskov draws to an end

EuroFaculty Pskov, a project that had been running since 2009, came to an end on 21-22 October 2015, with all stakeholders gathering for a closing seminar in Pskov, to reflect on the work, impressions and results of the past six years.

The project was carried out on the premises of Pskov State University (PskovSU), situated in western Russia, 30 km away from the Estonian border. Through the project, PskovSU was able to build a strong international network and launch Bachelor and Master degree programmes in accordance with Bologna standards. The seminar included presentations from the vice-chancellors of the participating universities, insight views from students and a reception at the premises of the Pskov Kremlin. The EuroFaculty Pskov project has added to the improvement the language teaching of the faculties, helped to invest in information and communication technology, the update of the university library and facilitated a number of international student visits and studies at PSU.


Baltic Leadership Programme: Towards a culture of learning and mutual understanding

On 23-26 November 2015, the second Baltic Leadership Programme for Future Decision Makers took place in Warsaw, gathering around 30 civil protection professionals from the 11 CBSS member states. The four days were filled with workshops, exercises and scenario group work for the participants.

As CSO Chair Ambassador Michał Czyż emphasised at the meeting, the goal of the BLP is to work towards a common safety culture in the Baltic Sea region. “Although all countries around the Baltic Sea have well-organised systems of crisis management, there are still vulnerabilities and deficiencies in their capacity to respond to major emergencies”, said Mr. Czysz. According to him, good leadership and safety culture are the basis for covering up the existing gaps in the regional collaboration regarding civil protection.

This was precisely what the Baltic Leadership Programme addressed this year. The three main themes of the agenda were strategic leadership, the use of social media in crisis management, and institutional and organizational learning. The participants shared the best practices of their organisations during course discussions. “Being here is important for my daily work because if there will be any problems to be solved in the future, I’ve made new partners here whom I am now able to contact directly”, says Jürgen Krempin, the Head of Department for International Cooperation at the Hamburg Fire and Rescue Service. “When you meet people from abroad, it is not necessarily that you come up with a detailed project that would work instantly and smoothly”, says Heikki Laurikainen from the Finnish Rescue Association. “But in the long run it’s important to build a culture where we understand each other, compare, and try to learn. Projects come to an end, but cultures remain”. 

The Baltic Leadership Programme in PA Secure is financed by the Swedish Institute, and organised and developed in partnership with MSB, CRISMART and the CBSS, the latter in their capacity as Priority Area Coordinators for Policy Area Secure. This year’s module was hosted by The Main School of Fire Service in Warsaw.


Future trends in human trafficking to be discussed in Stockholm

“Policy Implications of Future Trends in Human Trafficking” will be the main topic of a workshop organised on 29 February in Stockholm by the CBSS Task Force against Trafficking in Human Beings (TF-THB).

Government officials, representatives of NGOs, national coordinators and rapporteurs, law enforcement, social services and other stakeholders across Europe will discuss future trends in human trafficking and their implications for respective policies.  

The workshop will address some emerging issues of concern, which were identified by the TRACE project, where TF-THB is involved. Among them are the new and emerging forms of trafficking in human beings (e.g. forced criminality, forced begging and sham marriages), as well as migration crisis and its impact on human trafficking situation. The final part of the workshop will focus on discussing new and innovative approaches to trafficking prevention andmaking joint conclusions.

Read more on this workshop.


Balticlab 4.0: New opportunities for creatives of the region

For a fourth year running, Balticlab brings together young entrepreneurs and creatives from the Baltic Sea region to prototype the future and build a community of talented individuals, who through collaboration empower the region to become more innovative, creative and prosperous.

The Balticlab 4.0 Networking Weekend included 80 participants from 10 Baltic Sea Region countries, who work within the arts, fashion, music, PR, communication, tech, start-ups, education and public relations. The weekend provided an opportunity for the participants to get to know each other, exchange ideas, projects and collaborate on defining an innovation manifesto for the Baltic Sea Region, with the participants being invited to envision the future of Baltic Sea Region for their own field of work and beyond. The weekend included workshops with already established Balticlab experts, such as Hlin Helga Gudlaugsdottir, Shawn Westcott and Lillis, as well as a new workshop on group dynamics by Roger Sjögren from Hyper Island and a session on serendipity and innovation by the Sweden-based duo Tankeapoteket. One of the highlights of the gathering was also the talk given by Helen Sidlna, Tallinn Music Week, who shared with the group her experience of setting up the critically-acclaimed music festival and creating social impact and a societal shift through her work.

Similar to previous years, Balticlab 4.0 will also be continuing in the form of a project-development programme titled Balticlab Ideation with a smaller selected group of 40 participants from the Networking Weekend. The ideation will kick off in March 2016 in Vilnius and carry on through the summer, with a focus on societal shifts and changing environments. 


Baltic Sea Labour Forum Round Table in Gdansk

The Baltic Sea Labour Forum Round Table was hosted on 18 November 2015 in the Gdansk Shipyard, a cradle of the Polish independent self-governing trade union "Solidarity" (NSZZ Solidarność). The meeting was chaired by Mieczysław Jurek, Head of the Westpomeranian branch of the NSZZ Solidarność and moderated by Katariina Röbbelen-Voigt (BSLFmobINIT project).

Director General of the CBSS Secretariat Jan Lundin emphasised in his welcoming remarks the importance of regional cooperation, aimed at creating a sustainable labour market within the Baltic Sea region. Grzegorz Poznański from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented priorities and activities of the Polish Presidency of the CBSS and the National Contact Points of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region.

The Round Table was preceded by a BSLF Steering Committee meeting, where a decision to approve two BSLF observer status applications was made. The BSLF Steering Committee adopted a Statement, entitled BSLFmobINIT: New Perspectives through Vocational Mobility, which refers to a new flagship initiative on labour mobility, being prepared by the BSLF. Download the Statement here.

The meeting also included three parallel workshops: ‘HelloBaltic’:                     
(1) Information Centre Network in the BSR;
(2) Youth employment & vocational education;
(3) Information on EUSBSR and EU funds supporting transnational cooperation in the region.


New project launched to help victimised children

The project refers to the Barnahus (Children’s House) model, and similar models such as the Children’s Advocacy Centers, embracing cooperation between social services, police, prosecutors, judges, pediatrics and child/adolescent psychiatry in one place.

The project is managed by the CBSS Secretariat (Children’s Unit). Partners include the Child Circle, HAPI, Verwey-Jonker Institute, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Trauma Unit and Barnahus in Iceland and Sweden. It also builds on the expertise of prominent specialists in law, sociology, pediatrics, psychology and psychiatry from different European countries.

The partners agreed to develop a long-term vision for the project, emphasizing that all children subject to abuse and violence in Europe have the right to be protected and be safe. This includes children having access to child-friendly services based upon quality standards, ongoing development of the services through the sharing of good practices and the mobilizing of national/local agencies, governmental and non-governmental, for collaboration to implement the Barnahus model. The project will also create the foundation for a future European Network of services and professionals.

Last week, Children’s Unit of the CBSS released a guide on child protection for caseworkers and case officers that presents an overview of measures to promote the human rights and best interests of children in cross-border situations.